Amazing Customer Service

As my research agenda has turned lately to thinking more about business and how companies can maximize their profits, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering customer service.

So far, this is the single best example of customer service I have ever heard about, courtesy of Zappos.

The Zappos story will be difficult to beat, but I’m interested in hearing from readers about your best customer service experiences. I’ve written about one of mine.

What was yours? What made it so great?


jrm

you should try Japan. amazing country for customer service..

Heidi

We had bought a battery charger and recently found out that there are no batteries sold any more that our charger is able to charge. Here the reply:

"Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you very much for you email. We have received your request.

The reason why you could not find the type 5306 batteries is that they are not on the market anymore. Because of new technologies it is not possible to recharge other batteries with your 15 minute charger.

As compensation we will send you a new 15 minute charger that you can use for all rechargeable batteries inclusive two packages of 4xAAA batteries and 4xAA batteries.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards"

Lee

I ordered speakers from Cambridge Soundworks and the price dropped twice during their 30 day price match gearantee. I called them each time and they refunded me the difference from what I paid. I saw that the price dropped again but knew that they 30 days was fast approaching. The customer service person looked up my account and saw that I had made the purchase 31 days prior but was still going to give me a refund of the difference. That was great service.

John

I was having my car repaired at a local garage and a friend came to pick me up. He accidentally ran into one of the owner's cars. The owner's car was ok - the fender was a little dented- but my friend's car had a piece knocked loose. The owner came out, looked at his car, looked at my friend's car, crawled under my friend's car and put the loose piece back in place. When we asked how much for fixing the car that ran into his, he just said, "No Charge. All I had to do was shove that part back in."

David

I really value my time and don't need the hassle of problems so I'm willing to pay more for companies that will deliver. On my list:

1. Lenovo Thinkpads (X series). Tech support: 800-IBM-SERV, answer within 5 minutes, staffed by Americans in Atlanta, GA.

2. Amazon

3. Zappos

4. Jos A Bank

5. Lands End

6. Verizon

7. Netflix

In each case the people are readily accessible by phone and are really friendly and seem to really understand "customer service."

DM

My parents were able to return a broken 60" plasma TV to Costco 2 years after the purchase date, with no receipt. Full refund!

My grandmother returned a watermelon to Costco. She did the same at WholeFoods and received some other fruits for free when the latter watermelon was rotten inside.

Alek Davis

So far, my best customer service experience come sfrom KitchenAid. When my mixer broke, it took just one phone call to get a replacement and a pickup of a broken unit. I wasn't even asked about the proof of purchase, verification of warranty period, etc. I got a new mixer dropped off by my door, and a carrier picked up a broken one from my home. I've never thought highly of KitchenAid, but it's now one of my favorite companies, and when having a choice of products, I make it in favor of KitchenAid. My worst customer service experience from... well, these are just too many to list.

Jon C

About four years ago, I was paralyzed in a bad accident. While I was in the hospital for several months, my family and friends had packed away all my things including five Netflix DVDs. I had no idea where they were or if I'd be able to get them back to them. I sent them an e-mail explaining my situation and they not only forgave the DVDs, they refunded me the money from the months while I was in the hospital and wasn't renting movies.

jonah

My father bought one of the first North Face geodesic dome tents to come out in the early 1980s. He had lots of problems with the rainfly leaking. He tried a number of seam seal treatments with marginal sucess. In approx 2003, a friend suggested he call North Face's customer service line. He made the call and explained the situation. The service rep made no promises but asked him to send in the tent fly. A month later he received a brand new expedition grade tent fly for the tent with a note indicating that North Face tested the the fly material and determined that it had been from a bad run of material when they first started producing the tent.

Free replacement with an improved product 20 years after purchase. Needless to say my dad tells the story to every person he ever shares a backcountry campsite with. I'm sure North Face has received $50k of free targetted advertising for their efforts.

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ptemiz

I never thought I'd be praising Coca Cola-Schweppes but here it is. I live in Turkey and some weeks ago was shopping in the cash and carry with a friend who bought a tray of 12 litre bottles of tonic (we Brits like our gin and tonics). When he got the tray home it turned out 5 of the bottles were filled with a yellow liquid that didn't taste like tonic. One night he e-mailed Coca Cola-Schweppes via their main website in the US telling them what had happened. A week or so later he had a call on his cell phone from the local CC-Schweppes depot, but the caller spoke hardly any English. Ten minutes later another call from CC-Schweppes Antalya depot and a woman who spoke perfect English and asked for his address so that she could arrange delivery of replacement tonic. A few hours later two men arrived, one to interpret, bearing six small bottles of tonic. They were really embarrassed when they realised the original had been litre bottles but they dashed back to their depot and returned with six litre bottles as replacements. Amazing customer service.

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StevenC

I'm a little surprised that Apple hasn't been commented on yet. I have numerous personal experiences where I received extraordinary customer service. Here are just three cases:

Example 1: My wife's Apple MacBook Pro laptop died a week after the 1 year warranty expired. Apple was fully within its rights to reject any warranty claims. When I explained the situation to them, they approved a one-time exception to their warranty limits and effectively replaced the laptop free of charge. They didn't make a huge fuss about this, either.

Example 2: My wife noticed that there was a fleck of dust underneath the glass screen of my 160 GB iPod (still within its 1 year warranty). She took it into the San Francisco Apple store with the expectation that they'd pop the case open and blow the dust out with some compressed air. Instead of doing that, they gave her a completely new iPod! This is even more notable given the fact that Apple had just discontinued the 160 GB model in favour of the smaller 120 GB model.

Example 3: Unlike other companies, Apple's telephone support lines are staffed with quick-thinking, trained, and professionals who are empowered to treat their support guidelines flexibly. Most notably, they have *excellent* communication skills, too. This is remarkable in this age of offshore call centers.

I'm not a raving Apple fanboy, but I'll keep buying from Apple as long as the maintain their obviously-high investments in customer service.

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NSK

About 5 years ago, I bought a Belkin wireless router (for home use), which I was trying to set up so I could connect my work laptop (which used a Cisco wi-fi card).

After struggling with making the 2 devices to interact correctly, I called Belkin's help desk (it was around 10pm on a weekend).

About 15 mins into the call, it became obvious to me and Belkin's support person that the issue was not with the router (but with the Cisco wi-fi card).

Even so, Belkin's support desk, stayed on the phone with me for the next 3 hours to diagnose and fix the issue.

Haven't bought a different router since. And have advised many friends and colleagues to buy Belkin products (and all have come back satisfied).

ricE

I bought a 40" Samsung LCD TV which came with 2 seemingly free gift - home theater system and $100 shopping vouchers. The TV arrived the following day but the 'free gift'... well, must be collected personally from another outlet. Called them the next day and was told I had to wait 2 weeks for the 'free gift' as they were out of stock. Surfed the internet and found out that the 'free gift' was worth $500 or should I say the 40" Samsung LCD TV is valued $500 less.

Fast forward, one month passed, nothing happened, wrote a nice long letter to the CEO of Samsung and gave him the 'free home theater set'. He replied with a simple 'thank you' with an intention to donate it to charity and the $100 shopping voucher as a token of appreciation for my comments :o) My digital experience.

Andrew

The worst customer service I ever heard about (but did not personally experience) was from the makers of Enzyte, a supposed penis-enlargement pill widely marketed through spam and late-night commercials, whose founder is now in prison. Apparently, in order to get a refund, one had to submit a notarized doctor's letter that one still had a small penis. As you can imagine, few took advantage of this "guarantee."

samS.

There is a sandal company named Chaco based out of Colorado. They make a high quality, bio-mechanically sound product that I have always been impressed with. These aren't the cheapest sandals you can buy, but it's made up for by them manufacturing the sandals in the U.S. and them being re-soleable.

This summer, I had trip coming up and I needed my sandals, but unfortunately one of them delaminated about 6 days before I was supposed to fly across the country. I called Chaco to see if there was a glue or anything I could use to temporarily put the sole back on. They said no, and that it would void the warranty if I did this. This was disheartening for about 5 seconds, at which point they asked me what size I was and what color I would like my replacement sandals to be. They made me a custom set and overnighted the new sandals to me (at no charge) so I would have them for my trip and paid for the shipping of my delaminated sandals to their factory. They then glued a new sole on my old sandals under warranty while I was on my trip with the replacements. When I got home from my trip, I had my old sandals back, good as new. I called them to see about sending back the replacement sandals they had loaned me. They told me to keep them!!!

To sum up: Chaco covered all shipping costs (all the shipping was overnight) to make sure I had WHAT I needed WHEN I needed it. They fixed what was broken at no cost to me. AND they gave me an entirely new pair of sandals for my trouble. My initial sandals cost me about $90.00. If you figure the cost of overnight shipping x3 and the new sandal cost, they essentially covered about $150.00 in fixing this issue. I was already sold on their product, but this was amazing and I have told everyone I know about it. They are an amazing company and should be supported for this kind of behavior.

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Naim

About 4 months after I bought a used car from a private lot in Orem, UT, I took it to the Honda dealership because of some suspicions that the spark plugs were misfiring. They examined it and found that I had two blown head gaskets. It was going to cost me $2500+ to fix it (with no guarantees) or $5000+ to replace the engine. I went back to the dealership where I bought it and explained it all to them, hoping I would get lucky and they would pay for at least part of it (it was out of warranty). To my surprise, he took the car immediately, and sent it to his mechanic and had it fixed, at no cost to me whatsoever. I was blown away. He gave me $2500+ in repairs just to keep my business.

The Car Place (State St. in Orem)

Mike

Google Video impressed me with their service. When they had to cancel some of their services that they'd sold, they came up with a plan for their paid subscribers/purchasers. It was clearly a band-aid solution, and users were pissed. So the end result was, users got 6 more months with the content they had purchased, plus a Google Video credit, PLUS their money back. I don't know if it counts as "customer service", because it was a sweeping announcement, and not time/effort spent with any one individual. But imagine getting that from any other company with any other purchase. That would be like if Zappo's had to recall a pair of shoes, but gave you 6 more months with them, a gift card for their site, and your original shoe payment back. Google can afford it, but it was pretty great nonetheless.

Dan

Just so people know, if you spill a liquid on your notebook, just pop out the battery and leave it for a few days. If it doesn't power on then all you likely need is a new keyboard. The power runs through the keyboard first and when that fries it saves the rest of the computer.

roni

to #35: I think you forgot DHL. Their customer service is trully magnificient.

jblog

Just to flip it around, I was on the phone with my cellular carrier the other night -- trying for the third time to sort out an issue.

I was on with the CS rep for a good 20 minutes, as she worked through the problem. She marveled at one point that I wasn't yelling at her about the whole situation.

My response was that that she seemed to be performing her job capably and I didn't think yelling would get it fixed any faster. In addition, I said, it just wouldn't be very nice.

At that point, she made double-sure my issue was resolved.

Point being, I think customers sometimes invite bad service by being unnecessarily rude and nasty.